Kiffin asked to make public apology in Pahokee

Gran asked to leave Pahokee; comments are still ringing

Tennessee football coaches aren’t welcome at Pahokee High School. At least right now.

UT assistant coach Eddie Gran was asked to leave school property during a recruiting visit last Monday by principal Ariel Alejo in response to UT coach Lane Kiffin’s comments about Pahokee and its alleged efforts to funnel football players to the University of Florida.

Kiffin’s comments were made the day after National Signing Day on Feb. 4 at a fan function in Knoxville.

“Someone at the school was going to screw it up. The fax machine wouldn’t work, or they would have changed the signatures, all the things that go on in Pahokee,” Kiffin said at the time in announcing the signing of star receiver Nu’Keese Richardson.

The Palm Beach Post reported Monday that Pahokee Chamber of Commerce president Lewis Pope III wrote a complaint to Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek in which he cited an article in the Gainesville Sun that quoted Kiffin as saying, “For those of you who haven’t been to Pahokee, there ain’t much going on. You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain’t a gas station that works. Nobody’s got enough money to even have shoes or a shirt on.”

Pahokee is located on the shore of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County.

Alejo was not in his office on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson said he supported Alejo, adding that he and Richardson were caught in the middle of the ongoing maelstrom.

“He’s not a vindictive man,” Thompson said of Alejo. “He’s waiting on something to happen.”

That something is an apology to Pahokee High and the entire Florida community in person — possibly during an open meeting with Alejo and Pope.

“Coach Kiffin publicly apologized to Blaze Thompson ... but I’m still waiting, and the community is as well,” Alejo told The Palm Beach Post. “It’s what I think he owes the community of Pahokee and what he owes this school. His comments were made public, so now he needs to go publicly and retract those comments.”

Thompson said Tuesday that UT officials said Kiffin has made efforts to contact the school and others in the community to apologize. However, the necessary amends apparently haven’t been made.

“If it were up to me, I’d like it to be done,” Thompson said. “But it’s not up to me.”

Kiffin apologized publicly about the comments shortly after they were made. He has said he didn’t expect the comments to become public as they were intended for UT’s boosters and fans attending the event.

Kiffin declined to comment on the matter when reached by phone Tuesday.

In April, Kiffin spoke to The Palm Beach Post about his comments at the recruiting breakfast, which also included Kiffin’s comments accusing Urban Meyer of violating NCAA rules in his recruitment of Richardson.

“If I offended anybody in Pahokee or (anyone who) has to do with Pahokee or in the schools, I apologize; and I want to make sure it’s understood that is not what was meant by it (the comments) at all,” Kiffin told the newspaper. “It was just an energetic breakfast with some of our donors. Didn’t even know that there was a camera present when the things were said.

“It just wasn’t something that was meant to go in front of the media and make a big statement. ... It’s why immediately that day I apologized and made sure that everybody understood it wasn’t my intention to offend anyone at the University of Florida or coach Meyer.”

Said Thompson: “It’s something I can’t control. I wish it had never happened.”

UT secured the 5-foot-11, 150-pound Richardson after he had been committed to Florida for more than eight months. Richardson was widely considered one of the top 100 prospects in the nation.

Pahokee has several college prospects for the 2010 class. UT has offered at least five a scholarship.

“My main goal each year is to win and send kids to college,” Thompson said. “Blackballing a school is not conducive to doing that. We want our relationship with Tennessee to be a good one.

“I don’t want my actions or my principal’s actions to affect any kid going to college.”

Internet speculation has centered on Alejo’s allegiance to Florida. Alejo graduated from Florida and has a Gator emblem on his Pahokee High bio.

“He may be,” Thompson said when asked if Alejo was a Florida fan. “I’m a University of Miami fan. We’re all fans of different schools but we’re professional.

“That’s irrelevant.”

Drew Edwards contributed to this report.

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Comments » 229

golfballs03 writes:

They are just proving Kiffin right. Alejo and Thompson are idiots.

golfballs03 writes:

in response to golfballs03:

They are just proving Kiffin right. Alejo and Thompson are idiots.

well, definitely Alejo.

MidTennVol writes:

Who looks bad now -- Kiffin or the Pahokee principal?

UNPROFESSIONAL.

chrisw2967 writes:

It looks right kiffin was right all along about hokie pokie high. I wouldnt make another apology to them idiots.

ramrodjack writes:

Kiffin is proving Al Davis right.

golfballs03 writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

boo hoo! let's not hurt anyone's feelings. Especially gator fans - they are so sensitive.

VolinCT writes:

in response to ramrodjack:

Kiffin is proving Al Davis right.

How so?

volnsc51 writes:

Is this even legal?

Sorry we hurt your feelings, but get over it.

G8er_H8er writes:

Need to get this situation cleared up.

VolinCT writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Kiffin didn't say they were crooked, you just did.

Voluvr writes:

What a putz this guy is. The coach is right. They should be professional. Keep in mind that coach has to watch his step too. If Alehandro will kick out Tennessee he'll let him go too.

sampears writes:

Lane needs to stop hurting everyones lil feelings at FU, thems just lil! BTW, we got a BIG commit from Florida today...humm....thought we were banned from the entire state....HAHAHAHa

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

are you saying your a pantie wearing troll ? does every school in fla do nothing but cry ? I have never seen a bunch of sensitive people in one state like you have in fla.

Voluvr writes:

I'm going to find a Pahokee paper and post there.

VolinCT writes:

in response to gatorz4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know nothing!

racasey71 writes:

I'd say Kiffin and his comments have be vindicated by the actions of Pahokee's principal.

volnsc51 writes:

in response to gatorz4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We do?
We know the principal is a Gator.
We know Coach K hurt the principal's feelings.
We know the coach says he is caught in the middle.
We know you guys are the biggest bunch of whiners around.

That's what we know.

UTBEATEMALL writes:

Think about it! The principal went out of his way to kick a man out of his school that was offering students of his a full athletic scholarship to a fine university! If Kiffin had not made any apology I could understand, but come on! Kiffin didn't conjure up that information to start with! I'm sure the players and their relatives were the ones that told him that the school's administration was pushing them to go to Florida! They said the coach was upset with how Gran recruited Nukeese and that's probably because everything wasn't run through the coach and principal so that they could manipulate the process. Kiffin will do the right thing and make another direct apology to the school's administration, but he's not going to humiliate himself and stand on a podium in the middle of Pahokee to apologize to the community!

tallfry writes:

Kiff is da man. The coach at Pahokee is blaming the principal, though not directly for fear of his job.
"My main goal each year is to win and send kids to college," Thompson said. "Blackballing a school is not conducive to doing that. We want our relationship with Tennessee to be a good one."
Also, once Nu'keese goes back all oranged out and tells them how great the staff is it won't matter. Or even better if he plays like a first-rounder. We went there to give kids free educations and help them become pro players, and the principal kicks us out? He is definately a Gator and trying to help the alma mater. Since when is one apology not enough? Especially when the principal is making Kiff's comments seem more accurate all the time. This looks worse for Alejo than Kiff.

CaptainCalamity writes:

Ummm...The man is a graduate of the University of Florida.

golfballs03 writes:

Alejo is willing to throw his own students under the bus just to recieve some personal vindication from Kiffin. He is pathetic!

Volsfan91 writes:

Ariel Alejo is a straight up clown. Just check out his page on his school's site.

http://tinyurl.com/plv5ty

You can see right away this guy is a straight up Gator fan. He wants nothing more than to jock his way into a cushy job within the University of Florida athletic department.

He took his ball and went home after getting his feelings hurt by Lane.

When all of your players get pipelined straight into Meyer's machine, how can you be upset about your reputation? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Urban Meyer getting players from one high school all the time; that's recruiting - but denying it is pure ignorance.

golfballs03 writes:

in response to UTBEATEMALL:

Think about it! The principal went out of his way to kick a man out of his school that was offering students of his a full athletic scholarship to a fine university! If Kiffin had not made any apology I could understand, but come on! Kiffin didn't conjure up that information to start with! I'm sure the players and their relatives were the ones that told him that the school's administration was pushing them to go to Florida! They said the coach was upset with how Gran recruited Nukeese and that's probably because everything wasn't run through the coach and principal so that they could manipulate the process. Kiffin will do the right thing and make another direct apology to the school's administration, but he's not going to humiliate himself and stand on a podium in the middle of Pahokee to apologize to the community!

He's not doing what is in the best interest of his students. He is completely selfish. If I were a player or parent at Pahokee, I would be furious. He is trying to destroy opportunities for his students just because of a personal issue he has with Kiffin. Leave it up to the players. If they were offended enough by what Kiffin said, then they can turn Tennessee down themselves. They don't need their chicken s*** principal doing it for them.

dobber writes:

Boo Freaken hoo... We don't need Pahokkee hs anyways! We will just get us another #1 pick next year.

Write this down

Florida- 6

Tennessee- 35

give_him_6 writes:

in response to Volsfan91:

Ariel Alejo is a straight up clown. Just check out his page on his school's site.

http://tinyurl.com/plv5ty

You can see right away this guy is a straight up Gator fan. He wants nothing more than to jock his way into a cushy job within the University of Florida athletic department.

He took his ball and went home after getting his feelings hurt by Lane.

When all of your players get pipelined straight into Meyer's machine, how can you be upset about your reputation? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Urban Meyer getting players from one high school all the time; that's recruiting - but denying it is pure ignorance.

Man his site is all about the GAY-tors. He's not even hiding it. Lane doesn't need to kiss his azz to recruit the kids there. I think the principle lost a lot of face and he needs to be the one to apologize now. I feel sorry for the coach down there who is caught in the middle. Lane said he was sorry and now let's move on. But wait....the little GAY-tor principle is all upset that the pipeline to his GAY-tors is now turned off. Ha HA Ha Ha

caliGATOR writes:

Maybe Lane can take off his shirt when he visits Pahokee and apologizes...that always works or tell some of the students they're going to be pumping gas for the rest of their life....wait..blame the grandma for not landing a top notch recruit...

NashvillePreds writes:

This principal needs to be removed from his post. His personal conflicts are affecting the future of his students. This is why FLA grads should not be allowed to enter the workforce.

GO VOLS!

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to caliGATOR:

Maybe Lane can take off his shirt when he visits Pahokee and apologizes...that always works or tell some of the students they're going to be pumping gas for the rest of their life....wait..blame the grandma for not landing a top notch recruit...

All that trash talk...and he still landed a better recruiting class than your boy Urban...in three months no less.

FEAR THE KIFFIN.

Flyfisherman writes:

Uggh....let's see, Pahokee Pokey...you put your assistant coach in, they kick your assistant coach out and that's what it's all about!...Something's fishy when a principal is interfering with the recruitment of kids and the opportunity for them to better themselves where ever they may go...If I'm a parent and my kid's principal threw a coach off campus because his feelings were hurt, and I don't care from which school we'd have major issues...Let the kids decide who they want to talk to and where they would like to go.

If there were any questions about FL loyalty by the Pahokee principal and coach, this seems to have settled that!

volnsc51 writes:

in response to caliGATOR:

Maybe Lane can take off his shirt when he visits Pahokee and apologizes...that always works or tell some of the students they're going to be pumping gas for the rest of their life....wait..blame the grandma for not landing a top notch recruit...

Maybe Tebow sent the principal a years supply of panties to keep Lane out.

VolFanNC writes:

WTF! Kiffin already apologized for this. I guess the prinipal wants Kiffin to attend a Florida rally and apologize for offending the FL faithful? Why is the school board not talking to this principal about letting his personal feelings interfere with kids future opportunities?

So should Eddie Gran ask the principal to apologize to him? This is just stupid. Why do I even read and comment on these stories?

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to Volsfan91:

Ariel Alejo is a straight up clown. Just check out his page on his school's site.

http://tinyurl.com/plv5ty

You can see right away this guy is a straight up Gator fan. He wants nothing more than to jock his way into a cushy job within the University of Florida athletic department.

He took his ball and went home after getting his feelings hurt by Lane.

When all of your players get pipelined straight into Meyer's machine, how can you be upset about your reputation? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Urban Meyer getting players from one high school all the time; that's recruiting - but denying it is pure ignorance.

I bet if they had a full picture of this guy he was standing there in those gayfer panties.

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

"He's not a vindictive man," Thompson said of Alejo. "He's waiting on something to happen."

You're right he's not a vindictive man. He is a Florida booster who is just trying to make sure his boys go to the school of his choosing.

Agee_Vols_82 writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A "UM fan" you might want to do a little research. Then maybe you will not look like such an idiot. But, then again your a gator fan, I guess it comes with the territory...

http://www.palmbeach.k12.fl.us/Pahoke...

I'm just sayin!!!

volnsc51 writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Let the players decide if they want to talk to us, or is that too much of a disadvantage for you guys?

Ironcity writes:

The principle is doing nothing but hurting his students and his schools reputation. Its his choice and I am sure he is justifying it to himself. He is not unlike many principles at these high schools that believe the world centers around them. Its no wonder that our education system is in the toilet.

Waldorf writes:

in response to gatorz4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Voluvr writes:

Dear Pahokee internet visitors,
This whole thing was a comment that Kiffin made that the principal didn't have the students, but his own best interest in mind. Kiffin was right. He made the apology to the same scope that he made the comment. However, this chapped gator fan wants to carry it on for apologies to an entire city. Kiffin's comment wasn't to the city but to principal Alejo himself.
This guy got caught. Period. Here's the problem: He's wrong to influence his students in any direction but to expose them to every opportunity. He needs to grow up and be fair to his students.

What you probably see there is a crop of Florida students and if they do pan out, UCF, or FIU bound students. Anything to keep them out of Ga. or Tenn. NuKeese Richardson showed this guy he can't run people's lives. Now Alejo owes an aplology to his students and the parents of those students for asking a scholorship holding university representative to leave because he doesn't like their football team. What a class act this guy is.

informedintennessee writes:

in response to Volsfan91:

Ariel Alejo is a straight up clown. Just check out his page on his school's site.

http://tinyurl.com/plv5ty

You can see right away this guy is a straight up Gator fan. He wants nothing more than to jock his way into a cushy job within the University of Florida athletic department.

He took his ball and went home after getting his feelings hurt by Lane.

When all of your players get pipelined straight into Meyer's machine, how can you be upset about your reputation? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Urban Meyer getting players from one high school all the time; that's recruiting - but denying it is pure ignorance.

The gator logo at the bottom of his bio page pretty much says it all. The man has no credibility in this situation.

Waldorf writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So tell me what Kiffin said about Pahokee that wasn't the truth?

Mr_Brownstone writes:

If this is a public school, then I would think the principal has no discriminatory authority from a legal case(unless visitor had a criminal background. If he's letting other coaches in, then he can't keep ours out.

bigtangerine writes:

Florida doesn't own Pahokee. One Big Ten school signed three Blue Devils in the past two classes (two graduated early and went through spring practice) and that school is in on three or more this year. Check out the rivals story called Pahokee Pipeline.
That same school is leading for Jose's more highly rated OL teammate from Miami.
Kiffin needs to swallow some pride and get back in there. Dunkley or Johnson would look great in Big Orange.

StroVol writes:

We'll get more kids from Pahokee. This is making Kiff sound spot on about the hors.it going on there. Principal won't get that deep discount on the 2010 Cadillac from the local dealership if he let's kids meander into Knoxville. He's just watching his own back. Got jack nothing to do with the kids

finn writes:

Alejo is pathetic and his personal issues with any coach should not affect the ability of any of his students to select one school over another. Just out of curiousity, is it a public or private school? If public, I would question his ability to lawfully exclude any college recruiters.

VOLFORLIFE writes:

in response to gatorz4:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Promised myself I wasn't going to respond to another loper post, but can't help myself. Tell me, if you can, just HOW we all know he didn't! What an idiotic statement.

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

kabzs writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"A wise person gets known for insight; gracious words add to one's reputation."
Proverbs 16:21

Let Kiff be the big man and write a public letter, carbon copy to the newspapers, and apologize and compliment the Pahokie community that has such an inspiring work ethic that it continues to crank out champions. Tennessee is fortunate that it has the opportunity to compete for such fine men, with whom we would be fortunate to have them wear our Power T.

Shame on those here who are not considerate that Pahokie folks were genuinely offended and feel disrespected. Our responsibility is to make friends of our rivals. We won't win over those who can't stand us. It's harder to recruit someone who hates us than loves us.

We have lots to offer a kid. We don't need to leave up barriers, whether real or imagined, that obstruct our recruiting efforts. The longer this goes on, the more their attitude will be cemented against us.

Common Kiff: man up. Go out of your way to show class. The national media will portray you as a sportsman, and Urban's hatred of you will make him look childish.

PaulTheVol writes:

The Pahokee coach is right in that both sides need to move past this so the kids have all options open to them. While Pahokee is considered the Twilight Zone of Florida HS football recruiting, it does produce a lot of talent and it doesn't benefit Tennessee to be in conflict with them. Fix this problem and move on so that we can keep this talent channel open. We don't need this conflict spilling over into other Florida schools.

notoriousBIGorange writes:

in response to gator4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you really believe that it is necessary for CLK and CEO to get onto that HS campus in order to recruit their players?? If so, you are stupid! CLK should NOT apologize and put a full court press on their cell phones (kinda like Urban Cryer does) and in home visits. When we pull more recruits outta there in 2010 watch that principal really lose it! FEAR THE KIFFIN!!

kabzs writes:

in response to Mr_Brownstone:

If this is a public school, then I would think the principal has no discriminatory authority from a legal case(unless visitor had a criminal background. If he's letting other coaches in, then he can't keep ours out.

I think you are right, 14th Amendment, equal protection and due process.

But so what? Who is going to bring a lawsuit under 42 USC s1983 to enforce those rights? What good is it to be right but be hated by the community?

MrBamSeydu writes:

EVERYONE PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS:

The principal at Pahokee is a known UF booster / fan. This explains the entire situation at Pahokee High School. The kids at Pahokee still want to play for Coach Kiffin. Nu'Keese can tell them everything they need to know. Who really cares what their principal says anyway? I know I wouldn't if I were a football player.

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